Mother Of 11 Killed In Orlando Shooting Once Lived In California
A cancer survivor and mother of 11 who once lived in Southern California was among the 49 people killed in the Orlando shooting this past weekend. Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49, was the mother of 11 children—7 boys and 4 girls—and had survived cancer twice, overcoming both breast and bone cancer. She was born in Brooklyn, but her family moved to California. According to KTLA, McCool attended San Gorgonia High School in San Bernardino in the '80s. McCool ended up moving to Florida to live closer to six of her younger children. Her youngest child is 12 years old.
Her fifth-eldest son, Farrell Marshall, wrote about his mother on a GoFundMe page he set up to help provide for the family. He wrote that McCool was a single mother, who "now leaves 11 children alone on this earth [who are] in need of dire help from anyone."
That Saturday night, McCool went out dancing at the Pulse nightclub with her 21-year-old son Isaiah Henderson. Marshall wrote that she said goodbye to her other children before going out, and that they received a phone call three hours later indicating that she had been shot twice.
Ada Pressley, McCool's sister-in-law, said McCool died protecting her son. She told the New York Daily News that McCool usually spent that weekend in New York celebrating Puerto Rican Day, but had elected to go to Pulse with Isaiah, who is gay.
"Brenda saw [gunman Omar Mateen] point the gun. She said, 'Get down,' to Isaiah and she got in front of him. She was shot dead. That's how much she loved her kids. If it weren't for her, he'd [have] been shot," Pressley told the NY Daily News. Henderson was separated from his mother during the ensuing terror and was later rescued by police.
McCool's eldest daughter, Khalisha Pressley, told NBC News that Henderson feels at fault for his mother's death.
"He had to watch his mother die. He saw everybody getting killed," she said. "He feels it was his fault."
Earlier in the evening, McCool posted a video to her Facebook page of people dancing at the club:
Police fatally shot gunman Omar Mateen, 29. McCool was one of 49 people killed and 53 wounded by Mateen, making this tragic event the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history.